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UC Davis Researchers Find New Threat to World’s Wild Bee Population


The wild bee population has been in trouble for a long time. Researchers have been searching for causes and solutions for decades and have come across various factors that could be contributing to its possible extinction. Like humans, bees face several problems that can contribute to poor health and ultimately death.

In recent years, researchers have come across new threats to insects. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B Journal. Dr. Mia Park, currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Dakota State University, Fargo, led the team.

Other researchers included:

  • Clara Stuligross, Ph.D. ecology candidate at UC Davis (lead author)
  • Professor EJ Blitzer of Carroll College
  • Jason Gibbs, Entomologist
  • John E. Losey, Professor of Entomology at Cornell University
  • Bryan Danforth, Professor of Entomology at Cornell University

The study was conducted over the course of a couple of years. It was a very comprehensive study that involved a lot of data and analysis. The results were fully verifiable and shed light on what needs to happen to help the bee population. Read on for the details of the study and the final conclusion that was drawn from it.

Study Finds New Threats to Wild Bee Population

After performing the study, the researchers found that pesticides and a lack of flowering plants contribute to the decline in the bee population. Of these two threats, pesticides were the most important. It reduced the reproduction of bees 1.75 times more than the scarcity of their food source. Pesticides were responsible for devastating diseases that devastated many species of bees, especially in the United States.

The sample of bees used in the study came from 19 orchards. The sample included 1,820 honey bees and 3,200 wild bees, together including 71 species of bees. There were many controls to make the results as accurate as possible.

They ensured that the orchards were at a distance greater than the typical feeding distance for the bees so that the observations did not overlap. They then observed activity for the same period of time every day for the same temperature range. They also used pesticide fumigation records throughout the season from all participating orchards.

The results showed that the use of pesticides decreased the population of wild bees. However, the decline was more significant in solitary bees than in social bees. It was also observed that the orchards with less surrounding natural landscape resulted in a more significant decrease than the others.

The study clearly shows that pesticides are killing bees. However, the importance of natural landscape size is a bit more complex. According to the researchers, having a smaller surrounding natural landscape equates to less natural pest control. This makes farmers more dependent on pesticides, which increases the mortality of bees.

This study clearly identified these threats to bees, but the solution will require much more effort. However, it is an essential solution for the survival of wild bees and humans. Read on to find out how wild bees contribute to human life.

The importance of a healthy wild bee population

You may think that the most important thing bees do for humans is make honey, but you would be wrong. Bees are pollinators. Without them, many plants cannot reproduce. They are an integral part of the ecosystem, and without them, the ecosystem will undergo profound change, not for the better.

How bees pollinate plants

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approximately 250,000 species of flowering plants depend on bees to spread their pollen. The bees enter these plants to feed on the pollen and end up brushing the anther. This is essentially the male reproductive part of the plant.

Then they fly to another plant and rub against the stigma, which is the female reproductive part of the plant. The pollen is then transferred from the anther to the stigma. For pollination to occur, it must be transferred to the same plant species (which is not a problem as bees land on many plants).

Unfortunately, bees cover themselves with pesticides just like they cover themselves with pollen.

Read about how bee venom is a breakthrough in breast cancer research.

The benefits that come from bees

Bees are essential to the commercial production of more than 90 essential dinner-table crops. Honey bees are the most important bees for these crops. The extinction or even the reduction of bees could lead to a global food shortage.

You should also consider that the plants that the bees pollinate also provide food for other animals. Without bees, humans won’t be the only animals to starve.

Besides food, bees are the source of many other products that people use regularly. Some of these products include:

  • Bee wax
  • Royal jelly
  • Propolis
  • Bee pollen

Other threats faced by bees

As stated before, the bees were already in danger before researchers discovered the negative effects of pesticides. The danger is so significant that groups dedicated to saving bees are popping up around the world. His efforts to shed light on the situation have been slow but successful because now the bee problem is attracting more attention than ever.

The decline in the honey bee population was first noticed in the United States in 2007. It was so notorious that many of the major media outlets reported the mysterious case of the missing bees. Many beekeepers suffered dramatic business losses when the bees appeared to abandon their hives. There seemed to be no explanation for the disappearances.

Finally, it was discovered that a rare disease of bees called Colonial collapse disorder (CCD) was a major part of the problem. The disease spread to the US from Australia several years ago, causing nearly 45 percent of the bees in the country’s commercial hives to disappear. In addition to that, it was discovered that the hives that were affected with CCD they were also affected by a virus from bees known as the Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV). This virus is lethal to bees.

It took a long time, but as research on this topic continued over the years, scientists discovered that although IAPV was present in all the devastated bee colonies, it was not the main cause of CCD. Instead, CCD occurred due to several factors that affected the bees. These factors eventually became too much for the colony and led to something akin to a bee genocide.

Ironically, one of those factors was pesticides.

What can be done to protect the wild bee population?

Protecting bees is a task that will require more than government agencies and groups of bee enthusiasts. It is going to require a massive effort that includes as many citizens as possible. Bees are in trouble and humans have to be the ones to fix it.

Helping the bees begins in your own garden. You can create habitats in your garden that are friendly to bees. Don’t be afraid to do this.

Many people are afraid of being stung by bees. However, bees have no interest in stinging humans because they will die when they do. They will only bite you if you are a threat to their colony or if you confront them while they are looking for food.

You can make a garden of low-maintenance local plants in your garden and add nesting places for bees. Bees like fallen wood, stems, or even sheds. Of course, you don’t want them in a shed that you use, so consider building a small decorative “mini shed” near your garden. Some bees like to nest on the ground. They will appreciate the loose soil that was recently stirred.

Especially, relieve pesticides! If you must use pesticides, opt for natural organic pesticides that do not contain harmful chemicals. You can also go for natural pesticides, pests that keep harmful pests away.

Final thoughts on the imminent threats to the wild bee population

If you’ve read this article, you obviously have some interest in bees, even if it’s only a passing interest. However, do not ignore this information. Bees need your help, and recent research shows it.

Don’t dismiss bees as a buzzing insect that you would rather not be around. Bees are important for the balance of the ecosystem. Without them, humans will suffer dire consequences, especially on the world’s food supply.

Pesticides are one of the biggest problems bees face. It is up to humans to do their part to eliminate the harmful chemicals in the plants that bees eat. Please do your part by shopping organic foodsAnd hopefully in time pesticides will be a thing of the past and large pollinators will be able to thrive in their natural habitats again.


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